MERCED — Old cars just deserve to be showcased in exotic locales. It makes the viewing experience that much better.
The Valve Burners' Super Sunday at the Lake was held along the shores of Lake Yosemite for 20 years or more before it moved to Snelling. That was certainly scenic; the shade trees and cool breezes helped soften the sometimes oppressive summer heat and added to the elegance.
Last Saturday, the 20th annual Back to Graffiti show was held near the miniature lake at the Fruit Yard restaurant on Yosemite Boulevard, between Turlock and Oakdale. The ducks, geese and turtles didn't seem to mind sharing their space for a while.
Among the automotive delights at the show was a 1960 Plymouth two-door hardtop bathed in a deep purple, its prominent tailfins pointing to the heavens.
Not all the cars you see at an event like this are two-door hardtops or convertibles. A 1956 Chevrolet four-door sedan had the familiar light celery green color we've been accustomed to for all these years. This old Chevy had the "radio delete" plate in the middle of the dashboard as part of its Spartan, no-frills aura, and the stone-stock six-cylinder engine that many of the more plain models originally had.
A 1960 Chevrolet two-door hardtop in gray and black had all sorts of custom and street machine touches, including a bar grille and slotted tail lights.
A 1924 Dodge four-door phaeton had a chopped metal top and a slick metallic gray paint job. Nearby was a 1958 Chevy Apache pickup, in a light green and sporting its original six-cylinder engine.
Of course, I was drawn to a 1962 Chevy Nova 400 two-door hardtop in a deep metallic green. Also drawing me in was a 1950 Studebaker, this one a two-door sedan sporting some mild custom mods. I nearly drooled over a 1950 Cadillac two-door hardtop in a metallic burgundy.
Another noteworthy presence was a 1962 Ford Falcon Ranchero in a tan color with a matching tonneau cover, and — guess what — another six-cylinder engine.
A 1949 Ford convertible in metallic red with ghost flames had a lily white custom interior. Two cars down was a red 1949 Mercury woodie station wagon. The wooden roof bracing on the interior roof of those woodies is always worthy of a look.
Not quite as noticeable among all the glitz was a 1936 Oldsmobile two-door sedan. In need of some finishing body work and a paint job, the old Olds with its bustleback trunk had a modern General Motors V-8 engine, ground-hugging suspension and red steel wheels. It was a work in progress but showed off some solid workmanship, along with original yellow-orange colored California license plates.
A 1949 Mercury showed off its subtle custom modifications, and a 1950 Merc had received a more extreme makeover, with a purple body and orange flames on the hood.
Variety is the spice of life at car shows. A 1961 Metropolitan convertible stood out with its vivid lavender and white colors, complete with matching lawn chairs. A 1941 Packard 160 four-door sedan showed off its prewar elegance and sizable proportions.
It doesn't get much better than seeing some of this area's best vintage metal gathered in a park-like setting. I don't mind checking out old cars in a shopping center parking lot, but scenery definitely adds to the overall enjoyment.
Reporter Doane Yawger can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or firstname.lastname@example.org.